Speculations are rife in political circles that noted Kannada actor 'Kichha' Sudeep might take the plunge into active politics in the run-up to the impending Karnataka elections following his closed-door confabulations with Congress state president DK Shivakumar.
The meeting took place last Friday (December 3) at the actor's home in Bengaluru.
While the actor was tight-lipped about the meeting, the Congress maintained Shivakumar met the actor to understand the issues facing the movie industry and seek inputs for the party's election manifesto.
"We will be very happy if actor Sudeep joins the Congress," KPCC working president Satish Jarkiholi told journalists, indicating that the party is wooing the actor.
"It will be very good for us if he joins. It is rare in Karnataka for actors to take up full-time politics. In States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, however, actors have readily joined politics and served as elected representatives," he added.
Sudeep Sanjeev, who hails from Shimoga district and goes by his first name Sudeep, belongs to the Valmiki Nayaka community that is included under the list of Scheduled Tribes.
The actor also had extended support to the long pending demand of the Valmiki Nayaka community to increase reservations for their community. A leading Valmiki seer Prasannananda Puri Swami had launched a protest for the quota that lasted for over 250 days.
In October last year, on the eve of Valmiki Jayanti (the birth anniversary of Maharishi Valmiki, an icon revered by the community, the BJP government announced a decision to enhance reservations for SC/STs. The state Cabinet unanimously agreed to hike reservation for SCs to 17% (from 15%) and for STs to 7% (from 3%).
The seer called off his protest only after Revenue Minister R Ashoka handed over the gazette copy of the ordinance passed a day after the cabinet meeting.
According to a few political observers, Congress's desperate bid to woo Sudeep stems from fear over the ruling BJP further consolidating its support within the Valmiki Nayaka community thanks to the deft political move to increase the reservation quota.
Valmiki Nayaka community is the largest among the nearly 52 tribes in the state, and BJP has gained support among a significant section of the community. Karnataka has 15 Assembly constituencies reserved for STs and 36 seats for SCs.
Over the year, both Congress and JD(S) have made multiple attempts to lure the actor to their party based on the calculation that fielding him as a candidate will influence the Valmiki Nayaka community, which has considerable electoral clout in central districts of the state like Chitradurga, Davangere, Bellary and Raichur.
In 2014, the Congress offered him to contest as a party candidate from either Raichur or Bellary Lok Sabha seats.
In the run-up to the previous assembly elections in 2018, the JD(S) made a determined attempt to induct the actor into the party fold, including an offer to make him an MLC and, subsequently, a minister if the party comes to power. However, the actor rejected the overtures and decided to stay out of electoral politics.
In 2011, the actor was approached by the JD(S) to contest the Bellary rural byelection.
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